So you’ve probably heard that birds are distant relatives of dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus rex and the Velociraptor. You also probably heard about that time Kirk Cameron tried to debunk evolution by badly Photoshopping an crocodile’s head to a duck’s body, much to the amusement of the scientific community as well as the Internet. But truth is stranger than fiction, and 65 million years of evolution are better at making crazy birds than photo manipulation software.
10. Andean Cock-of-the-Rock
The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock looks like the victim of the Photoshop Bloat tool, has googly eyes that give it an adorably spaced out, and is called the Cock-of-the-Rock. So yes, it’s pretty much the perfect mascot for any upstart rock bands.
The female isn’t as brightly colored as the male but still has the hilarious face pom-pom. She also builds her nest from mud and raises her chicks herself. Presumably, the male is too busy headbanging at Metallica concerts because he’s the Cock-of-the-Rock.
9. Resplendent Quetzal
Admittedly the Quetzal looks less like Photoshop and more like a Christmas decoration, specifically one of those Styrofoam birds you clip to the tree. It also look like it’s wearing a bright red apron, and has a hairdo like it got its tail caught in the power outlet.
The Quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala, and surprisingly the name isn’t derived from the Quetzalcoatl – in fact, the Quetzalcoatl is named after this bird, which got its name from the Nahuatl word for “large brilliant tail feather”. Really? These people latched onto the tail? Not the bloody apron? Or the Bart Simpson hair?
8. White Peacocks
Yeah, nice use of the Photoshop recoloring tool there. Except that white peacocks are totally real. Like white tigers, white peafowl are a color variant, meaning they aren’t true albino and certainly aren’t winter coats, as much as a white peacock looks like it has a blizzard coming out its backside. But as cool as these guys are from a distance, get too close and they start to look like chickens.
7. Three-Wattled Bellbird
Hahaha, look at that! It’s like a little bald eagle with a moustache! That should be called the Chinese Emperor Bird! Or better yet, the Zoidbird! Yes, I declare we start a petition to rename that the Zoidbird!
But seriously, the Three-Wattled Bellbird hails from Latin America and feeds on fruit and berries. You’ve really got to wonder how it avoids eating its own face at every meal. And you thought biting your lip was annoying.
Honorable mention goes to bad taxidermy of the bird, when somebody with a bad understanding of this “gravity” thing leaves the waddles sticking straight out. So the poor bird ends up looking like time froze while being attacked by a giant spider, or a Facehugger.
What you might mistake for CGI monstrosities George Lucas cooked up for his next batch of Star Wars movies are real Shoebill storks. And yes, they’re storks. Imagine being told as a child one of those delivered you, although that’s still preferable to the Marabou Stork.
If you think the Shoebill looks like a goober standing still, you need to see it in motion. The Shoebill hunts fish in shallow water, and once it chooses its victim, it throws its whole damn body at it.
5. Standard-Winged Nightjar
For those who are either confused or think the Standard-winged Nightjar was named ironically, “standard” in this case doesn’t mean “normal”; standards are what those giant wing flags are called. Said flags are overgrown feathers with most of their barbs missing, and only appear on the males during mating season. Basically boys, it’s like if every year a parade flag grew out of your hand, and you had to appeal to the ladies by flailing it around. Think about that the next time your girlfriend asks you to just take her to dinner.
4. Ribbon-Tailed Astrapia
What looks like your little sister’s laziest Pokemon design come to life is the Ribbon-Tailed Astrapia, which has the longest tail feathers relative to its body of all birds. Man, it’s a wonder how that bird can even fly with that much junk hanging out its trunk. Well, it can and…
… actually, that looks even faker. It’s like its tail should have “Eat at Joe’s” written on it or something.
3. Luzon Bleeding-Heart
Before you start screaming at me in the Comments about whatever sick joke I’m taking advantage of “this bird isn’t Photoshopped” to make, I assure that while this bird isn’t Photoshopped, it also hasn’t actually been stabbed through the chest. Come on, what kind of site do you think this is?
The Luzon Bleeding-Heart is a pigeon native to the island of Luzon in the Philippines, and even when the bird is standing, walking, and presumably begging for bread crumbs right in front of you, it’s hard to believe it isn’t actually injured; just ask zoo officials who keep getting reports from visitors about the birds. So that’s either a very unfortunate coloring in its feathers, or every individual of the species has run afoul with Mola Ram.
2. Long-Wattled Umbrellabird
The Long-Wattled Umbrellabird has a floppy headcrest that gives it a Cher vibe, but you’re probably more interested in that feathery tube hanging down from its chest. What’s that for, seeing as “creeping the hell out of passing humans” probably doesn’t have much evolutionary advantage? Well, when it comes time to get himself a lady, the male expands both his tube and head crest while making booming sounds. I feel like making an off-color comment about attracting females by exaggerating his dangling appendage here, but it feels a bit predictable.
On a side note, would you be surprised to know it’s related to the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock?
1. King of Saxony Bird of Paradise
Those are not parts of a plant that just happened to line up perfectly in this shot; that is a bird with giant antennae. And what’s more, the bird can wobble them around with special muscles in its eyebrow.
Like many of the bizarre appendages on this list those antennae are used in courtship displays, which raises the question of what bizarre bird fetishes caused things like wing flags and neck tubes to evolve in the first place. Or maybe the King of Saxony birds are really space aliens, and they need those antennae to relay the results of their findings back to their overlords. And thus we uncover the truth about Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds; it was a cautionary tale against the King of Saxony.
Codie is actually more of a cat person, what with her running a site called Codiekitty.com and all. But she still has a soft spot for birds. Especially the tasty ones.